The average American spends 90% of their time indoors. Today, indoor air pollution is even more of a concern than in the past because modern home construction techniques create a tight seal. While this approach improves energy efficiency considerably, it also leads to a lack of natural ventilation. The best way to combat these pollutants is through air purification.

Upgrade Your HVAC Filters

The easiest way to integrate air purification into your existing HVAC system is to upgrade HVAC filters. Every home with central air has at least one supply vent with a filter. The main purpose of a HVAC filter is to protect the internal components of your heating and cooling system. However, they also capture airborne pollutants that would otherwise recirculate through your living spaces.

MERV stands for minimum efficiency rating value. It is a rating of filter efficiency and ranges from one to 20. Many homeowners use a filter with a rating as low as four. Older systems are compatible with filters that have MERV ratings up to 10. You can use a filter with a rating of up to 14 in most new systems. There are also HVAC filters available that the manufacturers have designed specifically for asthma and allergy sufferers.

However, you should consult an HVAC technician before upgrading your filter. If you replace your air filter with one that has a MERV rating that is too high, it can impede airflow through your heating or cooling system and lead to a host of issues. These include higher utility costs caused by an inefficient system. You should also keep in mind that higher-quality filters are more expensive and will have to be changed more often because they capture more particulate matter.

Install a Whole-House Air Purification System

A good HVAC filter will help reduce airborne contaminants in your home. But if you want to lower pollution concentration levels significantly, you need a whole-home air purifier. There are two broad configurations available. One option is to install the air purifier between the blower and other HVAC equipment. This lets the air purifier take full advantage of the air handler. It also lets it filter air before it goes through equipment like the air conditioner, heat pump or furnace.

The other option is to install the air purifier in the ducts. That may be necessary depending on your particular HVAC equipment. This approach is generally not as effective and puts a bit more emphasis on the HVAC filter. That said, it is vastly superior to not having any filtration at all.

In both configurations, air purifiers will have at least one mechanical filtration stage. Many have additional stages as well, including prefiltration, absorptive filtration, and ultraviolet radiation.


A prefilter is a form of mechanical filtration that filters out the largest particulate matter. Prefilters are generally cheap and protect the more expensive filter media while making the system more efficient.

HEPA Filtration

Most whole-home systems use high-efficiency particulate air filters for their primary mechanical filtration. A HEPA filter is able to trap the fine particulate matter associated with cardiovascular and lung diseases. There are different grades of HEPA. Many units use True HEPA, which are grades H11 and H12. These trap 99.97% of all particulates down to 0.3 microns. You can often upgrade to medical-grade HEPA, which includes grades H13 and H14. These trap 99.995% of all particulates down to 0.1 microns.

Activated Carbon Filtration

Most whole-home systems will also have activated carbon or charcoal, which is the absorptive stage. Activated carbon has a lot of surface area and can absorb odors, smoke, chemicals and gases, including volatile organic compounds. Zeolite is a cheaper alternative to activated carbon. But it’s not as effective, so most indoor air quality experts agree that it’s not worth the savings.

Ultraviolet Radiation

You can also choose an air purifier with a UV stage. This approach involves the use of the germicidal UV-C light to neutralize bacteria, viruses, mold spores and so on. This form of filtration generally benefits from slower moving air that is in contact with the UV-C longer. Whether an integrated UV stage is a good idea depends on the cubic feet per minute of your system. For this reason, many experts recommend UV lamps instead.

UV Lamps

UV lamps are a standalone form of UV filtration that your HVAC technician will install in your ducts. These systems take advantage of the slower-moving air as the air circulates around the lamp for a longer period. Your technician can install lamps in addition to either an in-duct or inline air purifier.

Air Scrubber

Photocatalytic oxidation is a process that can destroy microbes, VOCs and other chemically active compounds. This process requires UV radiation. Many manufactures offer in-duct systems that have both UV and PCO. Some brands refer to these products as air scrubbers.

Other Filtration Options

The methods discussed above are the most common types of filtration that homeowners integrate into their HVAC systems. But there other types that you may encounter, including ionization, ozone generation and electrostatic precipitation.


Ionizers are available as filter stages and standalone solutions. They emit negatively charged ions that attach to particulate matter and make it too heavy to remain airborne. This approach is not as effective as HEPA filtration.

Ozone Generators

The EPA does not recommend ozone generators. While ozone can be effective at neutralizing microbes and smoke, it’s potentially dangerous. Due to this, the federal government limits the ozone levels retail products can generate. There is currently no strong evidence that they work at all at these levels.

Electrostatic Precipitators

Electrostatic precipitators use electricity to charge particles negatively or positively. This attracts them to collector plates with an opposite charge and traps them. This approach is more effective than HEPA. But the gains are marginal in most residential applications. Also, such systems are expensive whereas HEPA filters are relatively inexpensive.

Whole-House Dehumidification

While dehumidification isn’t a direct form of air purification, it can be invaluable in the fight against indoor air pollution. It lets you maintain optimal relative humidity in summer. Air with a lower relative humidity has less moisture, which means it can’t hold as much particulate matter. A relative humidity level in the 30% to 50% range also makes the living environment less hospitable to germs and dust mites.

Whole-House Humidification

A humidifier is a consideration as well. It increases moisture levels in the air during winter. That improves sleep and respiratory health and makes you less prone to irritation from allergens.

IAQ Experts Serving Greater Anaheim

At Avis Home Solutions, we have served the residents of Anaheim, CA since 1973. We install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems. Our technicians are also experienced plumbers and install water treatment systems.

In addition, we are indoor air quality experts and can help you install an air purification system that will address your home’s unique air quality issues. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our team members.

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